A Steward’s duties are all-important to a Judge, but it is a great opportunity to learn about different breeds of cat and show procedures. First of all, a Steward should get to the show hall ahead of the Judge, to collect the Judge’s book and other paperwork, and ensure that a trolley, disinfectant and paper towel are ready. It’s important to have a Steward’s sheet, to record how the Judge places each cat in a class. When the hall is cleared and judging is ready to commence, the Steward takes the trolley to the first pen in the Judge’s book, ready to handle the cat during judging. The exhibit should be removed backwards from the pen, and placed on the trolley – checking with the Judge how he/she likes the cat handled during judging. When the Judge has finished, return the cat to its pen and ensure the door is securely fastened. Don’t get the next exhibit out of its pen until the Judge has finished making their notes on the current cat. When the Judge has finished the class and marked the placings in their judging book, make sure that the Steward’s sheet is completed, and take the slips to the table. Remember that a Judge needs their Steward’s undivided attention during a busy day. It’s also useful to spend some time working on the table at a show, to learn how the different paperwork is handled throughout the day.
It’s very important to learn the correct handling of different breeds, as it will be different for a Persian than for an Oriental for example. It’s also vital to disinfect hands and table between exhibits. When the last class in the Judge’s book has been completed, find out if you will be required for Best of Variety or Best in Show judging with your Judge. If not, ensure your Judge has signed any certificates, and has a catalogue.
It is important to exercise discretion when stewarding; Judges will usually discuss exhibits with their Steward, but a Steward should not comment to a Judge, or a cat’s owner after judging is complete. Stewards are not prohibited from showing when stewarding, but must not enter in any Breed class being judged by the Judge for whom they are stewarding.
Becoming a Judge
It takes experience in stewarding, breeding and exhibiting before one is qualified to become a Judge; even then, one has an eye for a cat or one has not. Nevertheless you can learn a lot by making your own assessments as though you are actually judging, and comparing these with official results. Don’t worry if your conclusions are different, as it is really impossible to assess a cat without handling it.
The most important first step is to get as much stewarding experience as possible, and also talk with experienced breeders, who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with you. When handling cats at a show, place them in your own mind and see how you compare with the Judge’s placings. Breeding and exhibiting your own line of any particular breed is, of course, very instructive, as you naturally study the good points of your own cats before deciding in which classes to enter them. Study the GCCF Standard of Points as when you are going through your training, you will find in miscellaneous classes there are different breeds to handle and judge.
Join your own breed club, and support it as much as you are able, as the breed clubs form the Breed Advisory Committees that select Judges, and they will notice if you are enthusiastic and interested.
See also the links above for further information.